Not to be confused with flapjacks or crepes.
(@kokendestudentjes / Instagram)
What’s the difference between a regular pancake and a Dutch pancake?
There is a BIG difference.
A Dutch pancake, also called pannenkoek (pan-u-kook or pɑnəˌkuk), is much larger and thinner than a traditional American pancake. It is not as thin as a crepe, but not as thick as a flapjack.
Pancakes in the Netherlands are important. Every Dutchie likes a good pancake, as a snack or even as a full meal. And if it’s not a pancake the size of your plate, poffertjes or mini pancakes are eaten and enjoyed.
All throughout the Netherlands, restaurants called Pannenkoekenhuis are scattered in every town. Pannenkoekenhuis translates to “Pancake House” and it is a restaurant that specifically serves a variety of pancakes. (And no, they are nothing like iHop.) From sweet to savory, every Pannenkoekenhuis serves delicious and flavorful pancakes.
As a Dutch-American, I was lucky to grow up with two separate cultures and cuisines. Throughout my childhood, I spent my summers in a small town an hour outside Amsterdam at my grandparents’ home. In the countryside of Holland, I spent my youth biking down small streets, reading books about a Dutch bunny named Miffy and playing Legos with my siblings and Oma and Opa.
Whenever my family and I would travel to Holland, on the first night my Oma would always make pancakes. It was a tradition.
She would make a huge bowl of batter and heat up two stovetops at once. The smell of pancakes cooking alone would make everyone’s mouth water. My siblings and I would fight over who got the first pancake, claiming dibs on who was able to eat the next. Once all the kids were served, my Oma would start making fancy adult pancakes, mixing in freshly sliced apples and calvados.
Oma would crank out pancakes for hours, filling our plates with stacks. She would keep making them long after we were full, leaving a plate of leftovers in the fridge which we would warm up for breakfast the next morning.
As I got older, we started traveling to Holland less and less. Our summers were now filled with sports tournaments and summer camps. The taste of Dutch pancakes and other Dutch delicacies faded from my taste buds.
During early quarantine, with all the excess time on our hands, my mom whipped out a classic pannekoeken recipe.
One bite, and I transported back to the same countryside home in the middle of nowhere Netherlands. The memories, the emotions and the aromas came flooding back, like a dike unleashing years and years of pent up water.
The connection between food and memories is powerful enough to make my eyes water and my heart swell. As humans, the flavors of food and the feeling of nostalgia symbolizes how personal memories will always stay with us.
It’s like that hit Twenty One Pilots’ song Stressed Out. (Yes, the one overplayed on the radio during all of 2016.)
“Sometimes a certain smell will take me back to when I was young.”
For me, that smell is Dutch pancakes.
So, when I’m craving Pannenkoeken at 3 a.m., I’d like to let you know that it’s already 9 a.m. in the Netherlands. And quite frankly, pancakes can be served all day and all night long.
Recipe for Pannenkoeken:
1 ⅓ cups of all-purpose flour (sifted)
2 cups of milk
a pinch of salt
Whisk together dry ingredients. Then combine with eggs, then milk.
Let the batter rest for at least 30 minutes.
On a medium-high stovetop, melt butter in a pan.
Add a ladle of batter and spread onto the entire pan.
Flip and wait until cooked.
Serve rolled with butter and powdered sugar.
Michelle Holder is an Online and Print Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She is passionate about international affairs and travel. You can typically find her buried in a book or drinking expressos at local coffee shops. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter @michellecholder.